A Simple Productivity Hack

If you often end up staring at that motherlode of a to-do list at the start of each day, then congratulations! You’ve just turned mankind’s greatest productivity tool into your life’s biggest source of stress!

And guess what, it’s normal. I’ve felt that way myself many times.

Listing down your items for the day isn’t enough for planning. You need to categorize them to be more effective. Also, having a simple to-do list (on paper or whatever app that you’re using) can sometimes be counterproductive as most often it includes just about anything from finalizing that important presentation for the board meeting to buying dog food!

That’s not really effective, is it? I think the best way to conquer your day is by organizing your tasks by the nature of your work or priorities. Here’s an example:

@Work
– Finalize presentation
– Meeting with Mr. X from Logistics
– Working lunch with a colleague to discuss plans for next month’s team outing

@Personal
– Pick up dog food
– Order groceries
– Bill payment (Utility)

If you have specific goals (like Learning or Fitness) that you would like to focus on, add that to the master list too:

@Learning
– Online training program on Internet Marketing
– Read: Product Launch Formula by Jeff Walker
– Take notes. Create a new notebook on Evernote for this learning project

See, how easy it is? A list like this gives you a lot of clarity and leverage on what you do on a daily basis. It keeps you focused. And by the way, I have a notebook titled “Day Planner” on my Evernote app that I use everyday to plan. And I plan daily, weekly and monthly.

I’ve used several applications in the past, including Omnifocus, Wunderlist, ToDoist, TaDaList and whatever application that’s out there — both free and premium versions. (I think I would’ve been a millionaire if I’d saved all that money and used Evernote right from the start. Alright, I’m kidding!)

The point is to keep your approach to productivity simple. Paper works because it’s simple. It just gets a little messier at times or becomes a little too difficult to maintain or carry it at all times. That said, there’s no dearth of people who swear by their paper planners. Tim Ferriss, Robin Sharma, Sir Richard Branson are folks who prefer to write on paper.

Folks like Noah Kagan use simpler tools like TextEdit and/or Remember The Milk (with Categories) to plan their days.

In essense, the simpler the tool, the better. I found the Evernote strategy to be the next best thing to paper. And it works for me. If you’re the planning kind, give Evernote or any text editor (even MS Word would do) a shot. You will love it!

The best productivity app is almost always the application that you’re using on a daily basis. Stick to it.